Former NFL player Tom Burke pleaded not guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct of a 7-year-old girl. The 44-year-old was arrested in June after a woman reported to the St. Louis County, Minnesota Sheriff's Office in February that the victim told her Burke allegedly performed oral sex on her. When police interviewed Burke during their investigation, the former Arizona Cardinals player said he was being "railroaded" and denied the allegations.
Burke entered his not guilty plea on Aug. 6, Fox21 reported at the time. His next court date is set for Sept. 3. Burke was a former Northwestern High School player who played for the Wisconsin Badgers in college. He was living in Rice Lake, Wisconsin when a warrant was issued for his arrest on June 8. He was arraigned back on June 14, the Duluth News Tribune reported.
According to the criminal complaint, the alleged victim's mother first reported the alleged assault to police on Feb. 21. The victim told her mother "Something that's been a secret." Burke knew the victim, who allegedly indicated that Burke performed oral sex on her. Investigators interviewed the victim at the First Witness Child Advocacy Center the day in February. She reportedly told authorities about as many as five incidents in which Burke performed sexual acts or touched her genital area.
When authorities interviewed Burke, he denied the allegations, although he said he was alone with the victim on other occasions. He also thought he was being "railroaded" and told authorities the victim's mother was "somehow involved with AT&T and was out to get him."
Burke's bail was set at $100,000. Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Jon Holets told the judge he "does not believe that any type of supervised release is appropriate," nothing that Burke lives in Wisconsin. Holets added that Burke has a "higher-than-average ability to pay bail." The judge denied Burke's request for a public defender.
Burke could be sentenced to up to 12 to 14 years in prison. He does not have a criminal record in Minnesota, but he was convicted for a misdemeanor battery charge in Douglas County, Wisconsin in 2008. Burke was born in Popular, Wisconsin. He was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. After he was drafted in 1999, he spent four seasons with the Cardinals before injuries forced him to retire.